CP Race Preview - Catalina Wild Buffalo Relay - Every Question You Want Answers To

March 21, 2018 Cali Paddler

Catalina Wild Buffalo Relay - Race PreviewThis race addition is the biggest news to hit the SoCal Winter Series since...well, since the previous crossing race was cancelled several years ago after several years running.

News about the Toyota SoCal Wild Buffalo Relay presented by Puakea Designs hit the California paddling community with raised eye-brows and plenty of excitement. But with it came tons of questions about details, logistics and costs. Cali Paddler wanted to get the answers to as many questions as we could. We reached out to folks with what they wanted to know. So Hopefully anyone on the fence is able to get their questions answered below and can join in the fun. Thank you to Maddie Spoto from Puakea Designs for taking the time to answer everything we could throw her way!

Hi Maddie, I know I was personally sad a few years back when the Catalina Winter Series Race was no longer taking place. So when I saw you all would be bringing something similar back, I was super stoked! We have a ton of questions about what is sounding like a pretty cool race. So let's get started!

Is it too late to register?

No! It is not too late to register. April 5th is the last day to register. We will not be taking any additional registrations during the event (April 6-8th). You can pay online or in person at check-in on April 6 or 7th, if you registered by April 5th. We will have a paddler check-in on Sunday, April 8th for those coming over on Sunday, but will not be taking any payments on the day of the race.Sign up here. 

What do I get when I register?

When you register you will receive an email with more info on things like accommodations and escort boats. Included in registration is a jam packed weekend starting Friday, April 6th and ending with race day on Sunday, April 8th, 2018. These 3 days include:

  • clinics with top educators in our community
  • yoga sessions
  • hikes
  • happy hour
  • pasta dinner
  • race day fees
  • race jersey
  • swag bag
  • and last but not least, a killer after party with food, vendors and music. 

Sign up here.

Catalina Wild Buffalo Relay - Race Preview

Saturday paddler coffee and check-in, Saturday Puakea clinics with Johnny, Kaihe, Leanne and Danny.

What are all the events you have lined up?

A full weekend of fun, knowledge sharing and relay racing!

Friday, April 6th, 2018
(Timeline subject to change)

  • 11:00am: Paddler Check-in at Villa
  • 12:00pm: Nelo + PaddleCalifornia Surfski Clinic
  • 1:30-4:30pm: Wilderness Badass Hike + Lululemon Yoga
  • 4:30pm: Paddler Check-in reopens
  • 5:00pm: Lululemon Happy Hour at Villa

Saturday, April 7th, 2018 
(Timeline subject to change)

  • 8:00am: Coffee + Paddler Check-in
  • 9:00-11:00am: Wilderness Badass Hike + Lululemon Yoga
  • 11:30am-4:30pm: Puakea Clinics with Johnny Puakea, Danny Ching, Leanne Stanley and Kaihe Chong
  • 5:00pm: Race Safety Meeting
  • 6:00pm: Pasta Dinner

Sunday, April 8th, 2018
(Timeline subject to change)

  • 7:00am: Prone + SUP Start
  • 8:00am: Outrigger Start
  • 8:30am: Surfski Start
  • 3:00pm: After Party at NAC starts (finish line, music, vendors + food)
  • 3:30pm: Cut off Time to be at Newport Harbor
  • 5:00pm: Awards

Stay up-to-date on all the events:

What craft are allowed?

  • OC1
  • V1
  • Surfski
  • OC2
  • Double Ski
  • SUP - Stock, 14 & UL
  • Prone - Stock, 14 & UL

What categories/divisions are there?


    • 2-3 person OC1
    • 2-3 person V1
    • 2-3 person Surfski
    • 4 person OC2
    • 4 person Double Ski
    • 2-3 person SUP (Stock, 14 & UL)
    • 2-3 person Prone (Stock, 14 & UL)

    Age Divisions:

    • 19&U (Men, Women, Mixed)
    • Open (Men, Women, Mixed)
    • Masters (Men, Women. Mixed)
    • Senior Masters (Men, Women, Mixed)

    (3 teams needed to make a division)

    What is the 'accommodations' situation like?

    Since this is the first year doing this race, we have been super hands on with the accommodations at Two Harbors. Although accommodation is not included in the race fees, we have secured a room block at Banning House Lodge (which is now all booked up) and tent or tent cabin camping at Two Harbors Campground (spots still available). Camping includes a luggage service which will take your camp gear to your campsite for you. We are also offering a luggage boat at a small additional fee to take your gear over if you need help with that. Email Kelly at to sign up.

    Catalina Wild Buffalo Relay - Race Preview

    View from Group camp site at two harbors campground. About a 5 minute walk from town.

    What are the various costs I might expect for this three day adventure?

    On top of your race entry fee here are some things to think about:

    • Accommodation in Two Harbors
    • Escort Boat Fee
    • Transportation to the Island (i.e. Catalina Express)
    • Food for Friday, Saturday breakfast and lunch, Race day snacks and hydration
    • Canoe and Luggage transport to the island (if needed)
    • Luggage transport from the island (if needed)

    Why did Puakea Designs decide to put on such a race?

    We just really wanted to bring that end of season race back to the SoCal Winter Season! For those who have been racing in the SoCal Ocean Racing series for awhile, they might remember the end of season Catalina Relay that went from Avalon to Dana. If you had a chance to race that race, you know it was a blast, especially when conditions were in the paddler’s favor. It has been a few years since we have had that final end of season race that everyone works toward all winter or helps them prepare for any Hawaii races they go do in the following months, like M2M or Solo. So we brought it back with some new locations to keep things interesting and we hope it turns out to be just as fun as the original Catalina Relay. Who doesn’t love a good relay race?

    Catalina Wild Buffalo Relay - Race Preview

    Paddle Craft Storage Area, a short walk up from the beach launch site.

    Check out our skit here:

    For Context: Great White Buffalo Clip from Hot Tube Time Machine

    What important dates are there?

    March 1st was the last day to sign up for guaranteed jersey size, but we did order extra in each size for those who are still interested in signing up.

    March 31st - race entry goes from $100 to $125, sign up now before the price goes up! 

    April 5th - Sign-up deadline. Registration closes at midnight!

    April 6th-April 7th - Join us in Two Harbors, Catalina for all the pre-race events and check-in for the race.

    April 8th - Race Day and After Party at NAC.

    Am I allowed to race it solo? (some of us are cray-cray after all)

    We do not have a solo division. This race is all about the relay race, hence the name...Wild Buffalo Relay!

    Do I have to have a support boat? If so why?

    Yes! This is mainly for safety and switching relay team members - dry changes are preferred at this time of year. As much as we would like each team have their own escort boat for safety, we know this is the hardest part of the race. We are allowing for some teams to share escort boats... IF they are in the same craft/division and are at a similar paddling level. We will not allow teams to share an escort boat if one team is SUP and the other team is Surfski, for various reasons. We would need to approve any shared escort boats. We will have additional safety boats on the course for emergency purposes. Email Kelly at if you have any questions.

    Catalina Wild Buffalo Relay - Race Preview

    Race Day launch site, also were we will have any on water clinics like PaddleCalifornia Surfski clinic on Friday. 

    What will the food be like?

    We will be providing the following with race entry:

    • Coffee on Saturday am
    • Pasta Dinner on Saturday night
    • Gourmet Taco Extravaganza from El Toro Bravo at After Party on Sunday (with 4 different non-alcoholic beverages to choose from)
    • Sierra Nevada is our beer sponsor for the weekend and Lululemon Happy Hour will have Margaritas (for those 21 and over) 
    • Water from KonaDeep will be available all weekend long

    How do I get my craft and gear there and back?

    Craft: Can get there one of two ways - your escort boat or one of our safety boats. We are offering sign up for canoe transport at a small additional fee. Email Kelly at to sign up.

    Luggage/Gear can get there or back - on the express, your escort boat or our luggage boat. We are offering sign up for gear transport at a small additional fee. Email Kelly at to sign up.

    How many miles is the race?

    41 miles (66 km) - Two Harbors, Catalina to Newport Aquatic Center, Newport Beach, CA

    Are there chase boats available? How do I get one?

    We are helping match those who are registered with an escort boat, email Kelly at to sign up. We could always use more contacts for escort boats so if you or a friend are interested in being an escort boat driver for the race, please email Kelly at

    Another great resource is your club. Your club, has contacts for escort boats for 9-man season that might be wanting to join us for the weekend! 

    Do I have to race to go?

    For those who are not interested in racing but still want to join us for the weekend or the after party we do have a non-racer entry and after party tickets available for purchase on PaddleGuru!

    Sign up here. 


    So there ya have it folks! We may have missed a question or two, and if that is the case reach out to the emails above, or list it in the comments below so we can get an answer for you. Thanks for reading. We hope to hear great stories from you about this race. And always interested in sharing them should you want to be a Team Writer.

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    Older Post: "Puakea Designs Kahele Review vs Ehukai and Kahekai OC1" "CP Race Recap - Catalina Wild Buffalo Relay" Newer Post

    1 comment

    • Audrey

      Apr 04, 2018

      This is exactly the page I was looking for! So much practical information about the race here. Thank you CaliPaddler!

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